Brownsville Community Justice Center
Currently in planning, the Brownsville Community Justice Center seeks to reengineer how the justice system works in Brownsville, Brooklyn. In particular, the Justice Center is dedicated to building multiple off-ramps for young people who come into contact with the justice system. The Justice Center will provide much-needed educational, occupational, social, and health services at nearly every stage of the justice process, from arrest to prosecution to sentencing to aftercare following a stint in custody. No matter how the Justice Center encounters a person—whether it’s a case diverted from prosecution or a mandate from a judge or an individual returning from incarceration upstate—the goals would be the same: to provide the kind of services and support that young people need to become law-abiding members of society. The ultimate goal is to reduce crime and the use of incarceration, while at the same restoring local faith in the justice system.
How It Works
The Brownsville Community Justice Center seeks to provide Brownsville residents—and young people in particular—with ample opportunity to step off the fast track that leads to incarceration, unemployment, and poverty. While the Justice Center is still in development, it has already begun to offer programming in Brownsville:
Youth Court: The Brownsville Youth Court, launched in May 2011, trains young people from the community to hear actual cases involving their peers, such as assault, truancy, graffiti, and fare evasion. Instead of their cases being processed through the traditional justice system, young people who appear before the youth court must complete sanctions designed to restore the community for the harm caused by their actions and are linked to local services to help them avoid further contact with the justice system. The Youth Court trains 60 young people a year and hears over 150 cases. To date, the Youth Court has a 94% compliance rate.
Probation: The NYC Department of Probation has a team of six probation officers on-site in Brownsville as part of the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) initiative. By being in the community, probation officers can create links to local programs and services for probationers. This includes an education and career-training program for high-risk young people run at the Justice Center. In collaboration with the Department of Probation and the Young Men’s Initiative, the Brownsville Community Justice Center is working with men and women between the ages of 16-24 who have been in contact with the criminal justice system in the last 12 months. The program offers case management and social services aimed at connecting young people to resources such as GED and college assistance, internships and professional training. Participants also have the opportunity to engage in visible community benefit projects designed to make Brownsville stronger and safer.
Fighting Gun Crime: The Justice Center is planning to launch a program in Brownsville that brings together law enforcement and key community players to communicate to those at risk of using a gun that violence is not acceptable.
Community Service: Supervised work crews comprised of low-level offenders from Brooklyn Criminal Court are repairing conditions of disorder in Brownsville. The community service projects include park clean-ups, graffiti removal and responding to other neighborhood eye-sores that are reported by community residents.
Juvenile Reentry Task Force: Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, this task force will work with the Crossroads Juvenile Center (located in Brownsville) on improving discharge planning. The idea is to offer case management and support to young people to facilitate a smooth re-entry into the community.
Safe Surrender: Safe Surrender is a project of the Brownsville Community Justice Center, New York State Court System, Kings County DA’s Office, Legal Aid, and local churches that helps local residents get outstanding warrants vacated. Safe Surrender resolves low-level cases with favorable consideration whenever possible. So far, the Justice Center has helped convene two Safe Surrender events.
The Brownsville Community Justice Center has been endorsed by a range of public officials, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. Planning and early operations are being supported by the New York State Unified Court System, NYC Department of Probation, Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention, Brooklyn Community Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation, and Skadden, Arps.
Brownsville Community Justice Center Blog
November 7, 2013
Summer Reflections: Brownsville Justice Community Program and Groundswell
“Intersections Humanized” This summer the Brownsville Community Justice Center partnered with Groundswell's Summer Leadership...Read More
November 1, 2013
Interview with Dashawn Hayes about his summer working on a Groundswell mural in Brownsville
My name is Yasmine Mohamed and I am a CUNY Service Corps member working at the Brownsville Community Justice Center. I had the pleasure of...Read More
October 7, 2013
Brownsville Supports Their Youth: Changing the Narrative Art Exhibition
Brownsville residents showed up and showed out at the Brownsville Anti-Violence Project’s Changing the Narrative Art Exhibition! On September 14,...Read More